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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Professor Jessica Krug's White Lie

     In 2012, Dr. Jessica A. Krug began her career at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. teaching in the History of African-American and Latin American Studies program. Earlier that year she had earned her PH.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Although Dr. Krug was born white, she was hired at the university as a black woman.

     After masquerading for decades as a black person, Assistant Professor Krug, in an essay she published for the blog, Medium.com, admitted that she was not black. In the piece, entitled, "The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies," posted on September 3, 2020, the professor wrote: "To an escalating degree over my adult life, I have eschewed my lived experience as a white-Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then U.S. rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness..."

     Dr. Krug's revelation begged the question, did her family and childhood friends know she had changed races? If so, why didn't someone, over the years, expose her fraud?

     In explaining, or perhaps providing a rationale for her identity deception, Dr. Krug also revealed that since childhood she suffered "unaddressed mental health issues." She wrote about her problem this way: "Mental health issues likely explain a false identity, as a youth, and why I continued and developed it for so long. I know right from wrong, I should absolutely be canceled."

     Dr. Krug's prolonged identify deception is more symptomatically related to a personality disorder than mental illness. (This personality disorder could be called "The Rachel Dolezal Syndrome." Dolezal, the former N.A.A.C.P. president in Spokane, Washington, was exposed in 2015 as a white person impersonating a black. Unlike Dr. Krug, Dolezal was unapologetic, defiantly maintaining that regardless of her race, she "identified as black.")

     In the wake of Dr. Krug's shocking disclosure, M. Brian Blake, GWU's provost, announced that "while the university reviews this situation, Dr. Krug will not be teaching her classes this [fall] semester. We want to acknowledge the pain this situation has caused for many in our community and recognize that many students, faculty, staff and alumni are hurting."

     The day following the publication of Dr. Krug's essay, the chairman of the university's History Department called for her to resign. According to a statement released by the department, faculty members were "shocked and appalled by Dr. Krug's admission that she has lied about her identity her entire career." The departmental statement went on to say: "With what she has termed her 'audaciously deceptive" appropriation of an Afro-Caribbean identification, she has destroyed the trust of current and former students, fellow scholars of Africana Studies, colleagues in our department and throughout the historical discipline, as well as community activists in New York City and beyond. The discipline of history is concerned with truth telling about the past. With her conduct, Dr. Krug has raised questions about the veracity of her own research and teaching."
   
     Dr. Krug, in 2018, published a book with a title only a university press (Duke) could love: Modernities: Politics and Identity Outside the State in Kisama, Angola and the Americas, c. 1594 to Present.

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